Published Jan 22. 2006

The Cautery

Burn, cut, burn, cut!

GFF rating: 5


Available from many outlets
Fly Tying Chronicles had it at 17.- US$, but closed

I always wanted one of these tools. I have seen them used at fly tying shows and by a few tyers elsewhere, and found the tool to be an excellent companion for the lazy and sloppy fly tyer. Just my kind of tool!

But this is a tool from the medical business, and the ones I have seen have not been cheap. I would actually call them extremely expensive. By searching the web right now, I just found one, which costs 415 US$! Whoa! That’s some fly tying too, allright... I’d rather spend that money on a new rod or a new pair of waders.

But along comes Fly Tying Chronicles—a US online shop, which deals in fly tying stuff. Lo and behold, if they don't have a cauterizer listed at 17 dollars!

Now, that’s more like it. At 17 US$ this is a tool for me, because not only am I lazy and sloppy—I’m also a miser.

The tool is a fantastic little piece of simple engineering. It’s basically a battery mounted with a small metal wire, which gets short-circuited when you press a button. The construction is made so that the wire glows and emits a rather intense, but very well controlled heat.

Doctors and dentists use the tool for closing small blood vessels, which will immediately stop bleeding when the heat is applied. We fly tiers can use it for cutting and trimming, and the cauterizer is particularly handy for evaporating stray hairs and feather barbs in a quick and clean manner.

The Cautery as Fly Tying Chronicles call their tool, is quick and efficient. Once the lid is removed, the small pocket clip acts as a contact. Press that for a second and you get a white glowing spot, which you can pinpoint to materials out of their way. Most natural materials simply burn and disappear, while some synthetics just curl up. In both cases a quick rub with your fingers will remove the remaining butts.
Another popular usage of this type of tool is for carving holes for doll’s eyes in spun deer hair heads on large poppers. The tool simply burns the hole, and the density of the spun hair keeps it from burning too deep.

The tool should only be used for a second at a time. Not because it can’t run for more, but because the heat gets too intense. I managed to vaporize the complete heads of a couple of flies before I learned to control The Cautery.
Using it for short intervals will also spare the battery, which cannot be exchanged. This should not be a problem, since the small bursts of power usage will only drain the battery very slowly, and at a price of 17 dollars, a new tool will be within reach if the batteries in the old one runs dry.

In conclusion this is exactly what I envisioned: a very handy tool at a very fair price. If you have had you eyes on something like this, I can only recommend this particular model. Price and quality is perfect for us sloppy and lazy fly tiers, who find it hard to part with too much money.


You are being ripped off. A simple battery cautery costs $7. to $9 each. However, because they are medical devices they must be sold as single use disposable. Therefore, the prices you are seeing are for a box of 10! So get some of your good ole boys together a pony up. By the way, they are also excellent for removing ticks from dogs

Martin Joergensen's picture


I don't know what happened to Fly Tying Chronicles, but the cauterizer is available from many other outlets. Search the web for "fly tying cautery" and you will find tonnes.


The Fly Tying Chronicles link no longer works.

If you really want to do this on the cheap... I just made one of these from a 9 volt battery, a hunk of old guitar string and duct tape. Be sure to cover one terminal when not in use!

I've had a tool I got from a doc for a number of years...The batteries died and I used a pipe cutter, making a cut about l to l 1/2 inces from the top, carefully separated the two pieces, took out the two dead batteries and inserted some new ones, put it back together using friction tape to seal the cut and "olay" its good for another round...

If you know someone who is a surgeon or works in operating rooms....they have lots of cautery tools there. They can only use them once and then they throw them out. Nothing can be better than $free.99

A lot of these cheaper tools are actually originally designed for melting modelling wax, and are used by goldsmiths and jewellers.

And Chris Helm markets one under the name "FlyTyer's Hot Point" (or at last he used to). I've had one of his for 5 years I think and I replace one battery at a time to ensure that the tip doesn't burn too hot.
Great tool - I use it mostly for kinking rubberlegs on nymphs and shrimps for my saltwaterfishing. If you want to try that, Martin, make sure you burn some power from the batteries - a glowing tip will sever a rubberleg before kinking it!!!


But be careful with it. A friend, who shall remain nameless, tossed his into his tying bag, not noticing that the cap was knocked off. When something in the bag shifted, the cautery was activated. He could smell something burning, and when he opened his bag, the oxygen influx caused the bag and its superheated contents to burst into flame. He managed to get it outside and then under a hose, but he lost a lot of accumulated gear.

You can get this same tool called the Power-Zap that allows you to replace batteries from Sporstsman's Warehouse for $16.00 or Feather-craft for slightly more. This tool works wonders for bending Mono legs and creating mono eyes as well.

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